Thomas Chipman McRae

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Thomas Chipman McRae
AR McRae Thomas.jpg
26th Governor of Arkansas
In office
January 11, 1921 – January 13, 1925
Preceded by Charles Hillman Brough
Succeeded by Tom Jefferson Terral
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 3rd district
In office
December 7, 1885 – March 3, 1903
Preceded by John H. Rogers
Succeeded by Hugh A. Dinsmore
Personal details
Born December 21, 1851
Union County, Arkansas
Died June 2, 1929(1929-06-02) (aged 77)
Prescott, Arkansas
Political party Democratic

Thomas Chipman McRae (December 21, 1851 – June 2, 1929) was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives and the 26th Governor of Arkansas from 1921 to 1925.


Thomas Chipman McRae was born at Mount Holly in Union County, Arkansas. He attended Soule Business College and graduated with a law degree from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia

In 1874, McRae was appointed to the post of Election Commissioner. From 1877 to 1879, he served in the Arkansas House of Representatives and was a presidential elector in 1880. In 1884, 1896, and 1900, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and served as president of the convention twice. From 1888 to 1902 he was a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. From 1885 to 1903 McRae served in the United States House of Representatives.

In 1902, McRae donated land for an African American school in Prescott, Arkansas. McRae's Elementary, Middle, and High School were integrated with the Prescott School District in 1969.[1]

In 1917 and 1918, McRae was president of the Arkansas Bar Association; in the latter year he took part in the Arkansas Constitutional Convention.

In 1920, McRae was elected governor and served for two terms. The Republicans ran Little Rock attorney Wallace Townsend against McRae. Townsend endorsed the GOP presidential slate headed by U.S. Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio. McRae polled 123, 637 votes (66.6 percent) to Townsend's 46,350 (25 percent). An Independent, Josiah H. Blount, the principal of an African American school in Helena, defected from the GOP and received the remaining 15,627 (8.4 percent). Blount was tied to the former Black-and-Tan faction of the GOP. Thereafter, the Iowa-born Townsend, who had also been his party's gubernatorial nominee in 1916 against the Democrat Charles Hillman Brough, was the long-term Republican national committeeman from Arkansas, having served until 1961, when Winthrop Rockefeller assumed the position.

In 1922, to secure his second term, McRae defeated the Republican John W. Grabiel, an Ohio native and an attorney from Fayetteville, 99,987 (78.1 percent) to 28,055 (21.9 percent).[2]

The McRae administration oversaw the establishment of the Arkansas Railroad Commission and the establishment of a tuberculosis sanitarium for African-Americans at a time when their survival rate was only 25 percent.

McRae was known as a relative liberal on racial matters and attempted to take action against lynching. In 1921 he ordered Mississippi County sheriff's deputies to bring a black prisoner from Texas directly to Little Rock to avoid local hostility in the community where he was charged. The deputies ignored the order and the prisoner was killed when he arrived in Mississippi County.

After the end of his terms, McRae was appointed special Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He was elected a life member of the Arkansas Democratic State Convention in 1926. He engaged in the practice of law and banking until his death in 1929.

Thomas McRae is interred at the DeAnn Cemetery in Prescott, Arkansas.[3] McRae was a cousin of Thomas Banks Cabaniss, a U.S. Representative from Georgia. He was also the grandfather of Thomas C. "Tom" McRae, III, the longtime President of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation who challenged the renomination bid of Governor Bill Clinton in 1990.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Robert A. Diamond, ed., Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections (Washington, D.C., 1975), p. 399
  3. ^ "Thomas Chipman McRae". Find A Grave. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John H. Rogers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 3rd congressional district

1885 – 1903
Succeeded by
Hugh A. Dinsmore
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Hillman Brough
Governor of Arkansas
1921 – 1925
Succeeded by
Tom Jefferson Terral